Miscellaneous (한 + EN)

Media regulation and aliens with limbs

2021-12-07 14:04
There have been a number of instances in which concern about harmful media effects has inspired efforts to regulate media content, even when the actual effects of the content either have not been documented at all or, at best, been found to be ambiguous. In FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (438 U.S. 726), the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate 'indecent' broadcasting because of the 'uniquely pervasive presence' of the broadcast media in the lives of Americans. This ruling was particularly important because it denoted a change in rationale for regulation from spectrum scarcity to presumed effects. Similar regulatory actions have been launched against televised cigarette advertising and violent entertainment programming (Liebert and Sprafkin, 1988; Rowland, 1983). In most cases, the presumption of harmful media effects on the 'other' has been the motivating force in these attempts to limit the rights of communicators. ...

... The third-person effect has been the subject of relatively little scholarly attention. In his seminal article, Davison offered four studies, using mostly student data, in which he investigated the concept in the context of various forms of communication, including commercial advertising and news accounts of political affairs. In each case, Davison found that subjects were more likely to infer larger communication effects on others than on themselves. … Finally, Perloff (1989) and Mutz (1989) have found that level of involvement in an issue is positively related to the magnitude of the third-person effect. ... As psychologist Philip Zimbardo (1972) puts it, the '.. . predisposition of overestimating internal relative to external causality is seen repeatedly. Dramatic changes in behavior occur in others, which we believe we personally could resist.'

… While Jones and Nisbett (1972) accounted for attribution of one's own behavior to situational factors partly resulting from the need of actors to feel that they are in control of outcomes and are not ruled by irresistible dispositions, or traits, Miller and Norman (1975) predicted and found that actors may avoid situational attributions because the actors want to perceive themselves as exercising control over their own environment. Jones (1979) responded to this criticism by specifying that actors attribute their behaviors to situations only when the actor's sense of personal control is not threatened. This explanation, known as 'effectance motivation', has received some support (see especially Henslin, 1967 and Langer, 1975).

A second explanation of findings that contradict expectations of fundamental attribution errors focus on the 'self-serving bias' in attribution. Extrapolating from Miller and Ross' (1975) finding that people take more responsibility for successes than for failures, Ross and Fletcher conclude that '… assuming it is reasonable to do so, we explain our own and others' behaviors in terms that "flatter us" and "put us in good light"' (1985, p. 103).

— Rucinski, Dianne, and Charles T. Salmon. (1990). "The ‘other’ as the vulnerable voter: A study of the third-person effect in the 1988 US presidential campaign."

There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. … No wonder, then, that mankind, being placed in such an absolute ignorance of causes, and being at the same time so anxious concerning their future fortune, should immediately acknowledge a dependence on invisible powers, possessed of sentiment and intelligence. The unknown causes, which continually employ their thought, appearing always in the same aspect, are all apprehended to be of the same kind or species. Nor is it long before we ascribe to them thought and reason and passion, and sometimes even the limbs and figures of men, in order to bring them nearer to a resemblance with ourselves.

— David Hume (1757/1957, p. xix)

People commonly anthropomorphize nonhuman agents, imbuing everything from computers to pets to gods with humanlike capacities and mental experiences. Although widely observed, the determinants of anthropomorphism are poorly understood and rarely investigated. We propose that people anthropomorphize, in part, to satisfy effectance motivation—the basic and chronic motivation to attain mastery of one’s environment. Five studies demonstrated that increasing effectance motivation by manipulating the perceived unpredictability of a nonhuman agent or by increasing the incentives for mastery increases anthropomorphism. … A final study demonstrated that anthropomorphizing a stimulus makes it appear more predictable and understandable, suggesting that anthropomorphism satisfies effectance motivation. Anthropomorphizing nonhuman agents seems to satisfy the basic motivation to make sense of an otherwise uncertain environment.

— Waytz, Adam, et al. (2010). "Making sense by making sentient: Effectance motivation increases anthropomorphism."